Concert Review: Cold Specks, Schubas, Chicago, November 29

Cold Specks

Al Spx laughs at her own jokes. That wasn’t something I expected to learn about the 24 year old Canadian singer Thursday night at Schubas. I approve completely – I always laugh at my own jokes – why would you tell a joke that you don’t think is funny? It’s just that having listened to Cold Speck’s brand of doom soul, I didn’t expect to learn much about Al Spx’s style of goofiness, but I, and I think most of the crowd, was pleasantly surprised by the singer’s onstage banter. Halfway through the concert she broke into an a cappella rendition of the theme song to “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” And then she giggled. Not a high pitched girlish giggle or anything, just a few quiet chuckles before she “brought us back down again.”

The woman is all kinds of contradictions wrapped up in a peasant-style, floor length, black dress. She’s aloof but charming, her voice is lulling yet jarring, and she sports a six piece backup band consisting of a bass, a guitar, a keyboard, drums, a sax and back-up vocals, but Spx’s voice is indisputably the strongest instrument on that stage. She played mostly from her 2012 debut album I Expect a Graceful Expulsion with the strongest pieces being Holland, Hector and Blank Maps. Although Hector is my favorite song, the band was at it’s best for Blank Maps – the piece strikes a perfect equilibrium, allowing the instruments to serve as a conduit to deliver Spx’s voice at its fullest and most powerful – neither overshadowing the other.

The brutal honesty, beauty and raw edge of Spx’s pieces are what make her such an entrancing presence onstage. As she sung and stamped her way through her pieces there was no whispering, no cups falling to the floor, no arguments, no texting – nothing. There was just Spx, onstage. And every eye was on her.

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Posted on by Celeste in Concerts

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